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Monday, 12 January 2009

more musings on the new SMWS bottlings


I have a confession to make.  After the repeated liver tomfoolery  we all give ourselves over Christmas and New Years Eve, I tinkered with the idea of a 'dry January'.  
Someone please tell me there are easier ways to look after the important inside bits!? 
I lasted a few days, but whenever I had friends over for an evening, I couldn't find a single good reason not to join them for a great dram. Moderation is fine, but just temporarily cutting out the things you love is plain madness!
So after finishing a  wonderfully lingering Glenrothes 1985 and all its fruity goodness, (could almost be classed as one of your '5 a day' with that citrus'y palate)  I realised we hadn't posted any notes for a while.
At the end of last year, we had a great chat with Mr Paul Miles of the SMWS, who was kind enough to give us a very enlightened interview on his plans for the Society.  The new member packs look amazing and I think you'd be hard pressed to find any other membership organisation who look after their flock so well.  More to come on this, later this month with the full interview and more tasting notes. 

In the meantime, here's a couple of cheeky drams we were lucky enough to sample.  As with the others we've tried, the detail which goes into these bottlings is fabulous and the following are no exception. 

S.M.W.S- 1.141 - 'One to Cherish and Love'- 41 years old- 48.1% abv- 157 bottles
You could say that this was the distillery that started the whole thing off- the society that is- and long has it produced some intensely expressive whiskies.  How does this fit into the scheme of things? Lets find out.

Nose:  41 years old and it's this fresh?  The initial hit comes from a very unexpected Chardonnay wine zestiness- like nosing a fresh cork from a bottle of  flinty Chablis. Next up is the oak; soft and delicate, giving the aromas a really rich nutmeg'y festive feel.   Not at all like some of the distillery's richer spicy, sherried expressions. Hints of herb butter and a light adhesive also make themselves known, but again, not at all what you'd expect.

Palate:  Wow, there's the oak!  There is an initial dry sourness, but then something surprising happens.  Chocolate covered coffee beans come out of no where and the dryness subsides.  Some sweet malty notes which make me think of perfect toast, all dark brown and brittle.  This definitely tastes old but it hasn't gone senile yet.  

Finish:  Long lingering notes of Licorice, a lightly perfumed vintage white wine, tobacco and that toast again, slavered in dark, thick cut marmalade, with a sprinkling of Cinnamon.  The time is now 12.30pm  and I shall clearly have to nip to the kitchen for some of the above!!

Overall: Apparently this is one of the oldest bottlings the Society has done. It shows, but certainly doesn't disappoint at all.  Another example of what you'd hope for from an old whisky- I bet, given a long cold January evening, that this will have a long and winding story to tell. 

Next up:  a new year- but does this have the necessary 'spring' in its step to impress?

S.M.W.S - 27.71 -Hospital wards and Treacle Toffee - 11 years old- 59.4% abv- 221 bottles

Nose: Powerful with a Capital P! Earthy, mossy and dank, these are unmistakable aromas from this South-Westerly Distillery. Blackened baked apples covered in even darker toffee (the name is pretty damn accurate here!) whiffs of cocoa too.  A brooding storm in a glass.  

Palate:  Definite notes of bandages, then a burst of sweetness, creamy highland fudge, condensed milk and then back to the antiseptic sharpness.  Mixes wonderfully well.  With a little water, more of the creamy notes come through, like a milky coffee.  

Finish:  Oh, this is the dram that doesn't like being woken up! more of that brooding thickness, developing into the rich, flavoursome toffee.  It actually tastes grumpy, but the more it wakes up, the sweeter it gets.  Probably like us all on a cold wet Monday morning.   

Overall:  I have a huge soft spot for this distillery and this is a really cracking youngster from its fold.  You have to love it, despite all its bad tempered protestations!